For my upcycle project I am planning on building a mini guitar out of random wood parts. Years ago I saw a booth at a flea market with a guy selling these small guitars made with a cigar box for a body. I have always wanted to make one of these and saw this project as the perfect opportunity. I actually have have the business card from the guy who made the guitar, Cigar Box Guitars by Rich Briggs. Here are a few of his guitar builds:

Cigar box guitar from Rich
Some hubcap banjos from Rich
Handmade violin from Rich

These instruments all have a rustic feel to them, with a special kind of Americana style to them, partially out of necessity due to the pieces used to build these instruments. Americana is an aesthetic that harkens back to an older American style. It usually follows an older rural American style, like blue jeans and cowboys. I want to follow a similar concept when building mine, but maybe upscale the finished product a bit. I want to not only do an Americana style build but more specifically related to New Orleans, Louisiana, Cajun style of Americana. I love the rustic and do it yourself style of many things in the Bayou attracts me, and would add to the homemade style of the guitar build.

I have always been interested in the Bayou of Louisiana, finding it a cool and mysterious place. I want to build my guitar with this style in mind. I am thinking of putting fleur-de-lis and alligator carvings all over, in an attempt to apply a feel for the swamps of the south east. I found a cigar box on face book marketplace from a New Orleans company with a fleur-de-lis on it, which would be a great start to creating my guitar in my aesthetic. I want to put more on the neck as fret markers as I think it would look very cool, but I will decide how many I should put on so it doe not look like too much.

I want to carve some alligators into the side to further the Louisiana Cajun style. I am even considering making the headstock of the guitar an alligator but I am not sure if this will be too much or not. Ideally making the guitar out of dark wood would make it look its best, but the cigar box I found is a light wood. Maybe paint or preferably wood stain would be able to make it darker.

Alligator and Lobster on the Bayou
Image from Princess and the Frog, “Voodoo” style
New Orleans

One of the major things that draw me to New Orleans style is the vast mix of cultures that can be seen down there. The mix of French, American southern, and Caribbean cultures create something that is unlike anything else, making a unique and beautiful aesthetic. The importance of music to New Orleans also interests me in using that aesthetic to create my guitar, and I hope that I can fully apply this vision in creating my upcycle project.

Works Cited:

“Louisiana Art Print. Cajun Swamp Art Print, No Skis, No Motor, No Problem. Cypress Wood Frame Available.” Etsy, www.etsy.com/listing/648803918/louisiana-art-print-cajun-swamp-art. Accessed 31 Jan. 2024.

“The Princess and the Frog.” IMDb, IMDb.com, m.imdb.com/title/tt0780521/mediaviewer/rm1872178176/. Accessed 31 Jan. 2024.

Buchan, Ella. “Why New Orleans Is a Year-Round Destination.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 11 Oct. 2021, www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/discover-america/new-orleans-year-round-destination/.

“Cigar Box Guitars by Rich.” CIGAR BOX GUITARS BY RICH, www.cigarboxguitarsbyrich.com/. Accessed 31 Jan. 2024.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Hey there! This aesthetic and overall project design in simply phenomenal. Utilizing things like cajun culture is so creative and having your up-cycling project be an instrument is very nice. I am very curious to see how you will choose and work your cigar box while also keeping it musically sound. Are you excited to move forward with your project? Do you play any instruments yourself?

    Reply
  • John Bileschi
    February 1, 2024 8:49 am

    Hello Garry, I really like where you are going with this unique form of Americana upcycled art. I also find that the music of New Orleans and the culture to be verry cool as it is a hub for Cajun culture and one of the largest hubs for Jazz and Blues music in America. Two things that I am really curious to see as you move forward with this project is what exactly you will be using you build the neck and bridge of your cigar box guitar. Looking forward to seeing your progress!

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